A Travellerspoint blog

Boracay

We Arrived in Boracay after a short flight, coach to the airport terminal from the runway that went through the town(!), trike, ferry and another trike. We pitched up at Pito huts that would be our base for the next four days.
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The ferry ride.
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Our hut

It being Christmas Eve we headed out to explore and hit the bars for some drinks. We had a lovely dinner at Tito's and then things escalated to more beers and some nasty shots.
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The following day (Christmas Day) was a late start. Partly due to last nights festivities and because of the rain. As it happened we seem to have fled a typhoon that hit Manila and some of the more northern islands. Not knowing what happened to Ivor and Phil that night we didn't expect to see them too early. We were up at 11 and went to explore, that meant finding a cup of tea and banana pancakes with a view. That evening was a quiet affair with an early dinner where we tried the local delicacy, Lechon. Basically a hog roast.

We were all feeling a lot more perky on Boxing Day and headed out early to explore the island and walk up Mount Luho. It wasn't a particularly taxing walk, it is only 100m above sea level, but it was steaming hot. The view was worth it, with panoramic views of the island.
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After walking a bit further and realising we had no idea where we were going we jumped in a trike to Puka beach and spent the afternoon napping and swimming before taking a trike back to the main strip to try True Food on the sea front for a curry, which was delicious.
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We then walked to the northern end of the island along the beach and around the cliff face in a carved out path to catch sunset at Spider bar.
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On our final day we started with a scuba dive, as the sea conditions had finally improved from the effects of the typhoon. We took some crackers down and fed some fish as we reached the bottom which saw hundreds of brightly coloured fish swarm us and occasionally mistake a hand for food. The scenery was pretty special.

We went back to Puka beach that afternoon. After some snorkeling off the beach we hired a boat to take us to snorkel at crocodile island, which was arguably more amazing than the scuba diving, with so much reef and sea life to see. We then took the boat back during sunset and arrived just in time to grab a beer and watch the sun disappear from the sea.
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The next morning we left early to tackle the trike-boat-trike-coach back to the airport. It was surprisingly much quicker on the way back.

Posted by Time Well Spent 22:09 Archived in Philippines Comments (0)

Manila

We arrived in Manila and after a short one hour taxi ride, with a driver who had only a vague idea of where our hotel was located. After directing him to the hotel using the small map in our guide book and the driver asking a few more people (seemingly he didn't think we knew where to go). We found Ivor and Phil at the hotel and the first port of call was beers at the bar. We followed this by some chicken sticks at the Oar House over the road.

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Phil and Ivor not happy with my Selfie Stick
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We sampled some chicken ass and intestines. Surprisingly, not too bad, although I don’t think we had it again on the trip. We left Manila the next morning to board our flight to Boracay so apart from a few drinks that evening we didn't see much but would be returning on the way home so it would have to wait.

Returning to Manila

We arrived back in Manila two weeks later and checked into our fancy pants hotel. Way too fancy for us. It even had a hot shower. We popped out for a quick dinner at a near by and very popular Mexican joint before spending the evening at the hotel, making the most of the facilities and roof top bar. Check out wasn't until noon the next day and we made the most of it.

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That afternoon we planned to go to the old Spanish area and explore the old colonial buildings and history, however, we'd seen there was to be a huge parade for the Black Nazarene, with around 13 million people expected to attend. The traffic in Manila is chockers regardless of any parade so we decided it was best avoided. And exploring the small area with millions of others didn't sound that fun. Instead we visited the Ayala museum in Makati, the area we were staying in. Much of the exhibits were donated by the Ayala family, a Spanish Filipino business family and one of the wealthiest in the world, including over 1000 pieces of gold ornaments and jewelry.

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My favourite part of the museum was a chronological display of dioramas (miniature scenes) that took you through the history of the Philippines to present day. Probably one of the best historical exhibitions I've been to that has so clearly communicated events.

Here is a pic of one of the Diorama that I took because the hut was not dissimilar to those we stayed at in present day.
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After a massage that afternoon we caught the end of sunset on the roof bar, grabbed a quick dinner and feeling relaxed, at least I was (James never travels well) we left for the airport and our flight back to Sydney.

Posted by Time Well Spent 21:56 Archived in Philippines Comments (0)

The Red Centre

Ayers Rock

This weekend we flew to the very middle of the country, also known as the Red Centre, and I think you will see from the pictures how it’s earned its meme.
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The first evening we set out to view the Field of Light, a light installation by Bruce Munro of over 50,000 light stems. We were served bubbles and beers as the sunset on Uluru, aka Ayers Rock, as the light installation came to life. Once dark, we ventured into the field to explore.
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The next morning we headed out to catch the sunrise over the rock. It was pretty spectacular as the sun began to hit the rock, illuminating the redness and the sheer mass of the monolith. Once the sun was up and we began to warm up we joined the Mala Walk tour, which gave a lot more insight into the area and its importance in Aboriginal culture, before heading off on the 10km walk around the rock. We also learnt that it is against their culture to pass on a story about a place unless you are in that place, so I’m afraid I won’t be sharing and specific details here.
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That evening we experienced the Sounds of Silence dinner. Once again we watched the sunset on the rock over canapés, bubbles and beers. We then headed to our outdoor dining venue where along with a three course meal, which included a dessert buffet(!) we were entertained with a traditional aboriginal performance (all a bit touristy but enjoyable nonetheless) and the highlight of the evening was a star gazing talk and a peek of Saturn and the moon through the telescopes. It was close to 5 degrees, so luckily the wine glasses were kept topped up to stave off the chill.
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On our final day we once again got up and headed out for sunrise. This time at Kata Tjuta, also know as the Olgas, the second largest rock formation in the Red Centre. It also offered a different perspective on Ayers Rock.
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The drive was a little further, which I didn’t appreciate that early, particularly because James wasn’t registered to drive on the car and I had to drive the whole way (due to a minor incident at the airport that involved a camera being left on the plane and him not being present to register his license – I won’t say who left it on the plane but I did have my two bags).

That afternoon we walked through the Olgas. Being more than one rock it was a more interesting walk than the Ayers Rock circuit.
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After some lunch in the town square, it was back on the plane. We secured a window seat on the way back, which gave us one last glimpse of Uluru and the red landscape.
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Posted by Time Well Spent 00:07 Archived in Australia Tagged uluru ayers_rock Comments (0)

Long Weekend in Tasmania

Tasmania is another state we hadn’t yet visited. Therefore, we took the long weekend to make the trip. We flew into the capital city Hobart, which has a grand total of 205k people. We headed out for a late dinner and some beer sampling at the Jack Green pub (a place that became a favourite of ours over the weekend).
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The following morning we were up early for some breakfast (at Jackman McRoss café, which was conveniently located round the corner) and a wander through the Salamanca markets before we headed off on the 4000ft bike descent down Mount Wellington. The view from the top was spectacular and we were very happy we didn’t have to cycle up. The off-road sections on the mountain bikes were probably the most fun and our favourite.
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After a quick shower, we headed to MONA (Museum of Old and New Art). The gallery was established by a man who made his millions as a professional gambler and it was bizarre. It was complete with a wall of lady part molds, a poo machine and a random death room, which we didn’t make it into because it was two at a time and we didn’t fancy the 45 minute queue. We were much more keen to get to the wine bar and taste some Tassie vino and some of the Moo Brew beers from the local brewery. Well, James was. Someone had to drive us back. Luckily dinner was in town, so we could both enjoy a glass of wine.
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The following day we drove up to Freycinet national park to hike Mount Amos, one of the three hazards in the park. At 1,500ft it was a good hike to the top, with some sections requiring a lot more grip on the shoe than mind had. Nevertheless, we made it to the top within the hour for another spectacular view of Wine Glass Bay. Back down we went in search of lunch and dropped by Devil’s Corner Winery for some fish and chips and wine tasting (again James did – someone had to drive). It was a 3 hour drive back and after a quick shower and a nap we headed out (to the Jack Green pub) for some drinks before dinner.
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Monday was to be our final day in Tassie. After a walk around the town centre, the waterfront and a late breakfast at Machine Laundry Café, which was where everyone seemed to be, we drove down to Port Arthur. There were a few nice stops along the way and some stunning scenery. My favourite stop however was the drive through the town of Doo. Yes, Doo. Every house had a quirky name with the word Doo including Make-Doo, Doo Rum, Much a Doo about Nothing, Didgeri- Doo, Yabba Dabba Doo, Humpty Doo, Doo Me, Just Doo It, Doo Little, Do for Now, it goes on, but you get the idea.
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Port Arthur is a former convict settlement and an open-air museum. The tour guide gave some fantastic insight into what it would have been like to be a convict in the prison in the 19th Century. Many of the houses have been restored following a number of bush fires. Visiting the museum and walking around the houses it was hard to see how it could have been such a bad place to live. It was a sunny day, it’s by the water and it was very peaceful. I expect the 16+ hour days of hard manual labour and very little to eat would have changed my opinion.
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Sadly, that was all we had time for and we headed back to Hobart to catch the flight back.

Posted by Time Well Spent 04:23 Archived in Australia Tagged tasmania Comments (0)

Byron Bay

Christmas & New Years

It’s been a while since we posted anything here - seems work etc gets in the way, however we won’t let it stop us from going away an visiting amazing places. This Christmas was our third Christmas away from home and our friends and family. We used the time off over the festive period to visit Byron Bay. Whilst we were away from our friends back home we managed to find accomplices this side of the world to join us.
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We made the ten hour drive up to Byron, broken up with a stop for Christmas day near Wauchope (pronounced War-hope) at a friends. We hit Byron on Boxing day and settled in for a week of beach, sea and bars. Although, the first day greeted us with a deluge of rain (it does rain in Australia), which found us holing up in a bar for the afternoon.
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Following the rain we were lucky enough to have a sunny week. We hired surf boards and I gave it a crack – managing to stand up a few times, all be it in the shallow white water. James faired much better and spent a lot of the time out in the surf. I’m clearly more of a land based creature, and preferred to run on the beach that be battered in the sea by the waves.
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Stone & Wood Brewery
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Lighthouse Walk

The walk to the lighthouse was a pleasant walk along the coastline. We spotted a pod of dolphins in one section, playing in the waves with the surfers. We’d never seen so many of them in one place and it was an incredible site.
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The walk to the lighthouse took us to the most easterly point of Australia, which was, as far as I can tell, very windy.

Our days were mostly spent chilling by the beach, splashing in the sea and cycling to and from the town, as we stayed 3km out of Byron Bay in Belongil.

A nice place to visit is Bangalow, a town a 15 minute drive from Byron Bay. We drove up for some brunch and went to a great café called Downtown (highly recommended for breakfast – and they have a restaurant called Uptown, which is a good spot for dinner).

News Years Eve we started with a BBQ and moved onto the street party, where there was live music and markets in the town. Once that wound down we popped into a club and finished the night with a beer on the beach.
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We broke the drive up with an overnight stop in Port Macquarie. After a spot of lunch we took out a kayak for the afternoon and spent the evening walking along the coastline and watching the surfers and body boarders before dinner and bed and an early start to drive back to Sydney.
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Posted by Time Well Spent 15:24 Archived in Australia Comments (0)

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